Study shows how plant-based catering can greatly reduce events’ carbon footprints

December 5, 2019 by  
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A recent analysis published by the Center for Biological Diversity’s Catering to the Climate report finds that replacing meat with plant-based menu offerings at conferences, corporate gatherings and holiday parties can greatly reduce the impact of these events. Production of meat and dairy contributes to nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which play a drastic role in the planet’s current climate crisis . The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly warned that reducing meat consumption and its accompanying emissions can help countries meet their climate goals. In the U.S. alone, half of all consumed water goes toward meat production. Did you know that 80 percent of agricultural land is set aside for raising animals and feed crops? As a result, there is a vital need to improve current agricultural, food and environmental practices. One such initiative is to address the catering sector. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis Last year, revenues for catering surpassed $11 billion, with industry growth in the past three years accelerating toward an annual 10 percent climb. By shifting the catering sector away from meat-dominant menus and toward more plant-based items, there’s likely to be a noticeable dent in accompanying emissions. “Avoiding meat-heavy menus at holiday parties and conferences can make a surprisingly big difference for our planet,” explained Jennifer Molidor, the Center for Biological Diversity’s senior food campaigner. “With Earth-friendly catering that focuses on low-carbon, plant-based choices, we can save wildlife habitats and avoid a lot of climate pollution.” Through plant-based catering, a 500-person event could minimize its carbon footprint by 10 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the amount emitted by a car driving 22,000 miles. The move will also conserve 100,000 gallons of water from food processing and irrigation, save 5 acres of habitat from animal agriculture and prevent 17 tons of manure pollution . “Public demand for plant-based, low-carbon menus is growing quickly,” Molidor said. “Even small changes in purchasing, like replacing dairy with plant-based milks and cheeses, can bring substantial benefits to suppliers and their clients. When the event and catering industry serves plant-based menus, it’s an environmental and culinary success.” + Center for Biological Diversity Image via Pixabay

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Study shows how plant-based catering can greatly reduce events’ carbon footprints

Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

November 26, 2019 by  
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According to WHO, air quality in India’s capital of Delhi is among the worst in the world and is the fifth leading cause of death in India. In a bid to fight this silent killer, Indian practice Studio Symbiosis Architects has taken on a pro-bono project to design A?ra, a proposal for a system of air purifiers to clean the city air for the benefit of all residents in Delhi. Developed using the principles of aerodynamics, the A?ra air purifiers rely on a curved shape and air pressure differentials to intake polluted air and produce cool, clean air. Delhi has made headlines year after year for the thick, suffocating smog that has blanketed the city and neighboring areas. With the levels of PM 2.5 spiking to dangerous highs, Studio Symbiosis Architects sought a solution that could be enjoyed by all and not just those able to afford home air purifiers. Related: Pollution Pods let visitors taste pollution from around the world At the heart of the architects’ proposal is A?ra, a series of giant, air purifying towers topped with green planters with drip irrigation. Each tower would have two main chambers: one to increase the relative velocity of the air and the other for purifying the polluted air before blowing it out at high speeds and at lower temperatures to create a pressure difference that then pushes warm, polluted air back toward the tower. The architects estimate that an 18-meter-tall A?ra tower could clean 32 million cubic meters of air every day and have the capacity to clean 1.3 million cubic meters of air per hour. The A?ra towers represent only the first part of the architects’ proposal. The architects’ implementation plan would begin with installing a ring of 60-meter-tall A?ra towers around the city border to stop the flow of external pollution. Smaller, 18-meter-tall A?ra towers with a range of 1 square kilometer would then be installed in select “hot spots” along a grid to ensure clean air within the city. The air purification system would be supplemented with “A?ra velocity” gadgets that can be attached to the tops of cars as well as a network of “A?ra Falcon” drones that would move around the city and monitor air pollution levels. The systems collectively would be called the “A?ra Hive.” + Studio Symbiosis Architects Images via Studio Symbiosis Architects

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Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhis air pollution

Research finds heart attacks and strokes surge on high pollution days in England

October 25, 2019 by  
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A new study published by King’s College London (KCL) reports that elevated levels of air pollution contribute to increased spikes in cardiac arrests, stroke admissions and asthma hospitalizations. The sobering news has been described as a health emergency, prompting calls for the British government to commit to more enforceable sustainability targets and improved air quality standards. The research team surveyed data across nine cities: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. London had the largest uptick of health incidents because it experienced more high pollution days. For the English capital city, an additional 124 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 231 stroke admissions and 193 asthma hospitalizations occurred on days registering higher pollution levels. The collated data clearly revealed a cause-and-effect correlation. Thus, increased air pollution from wind direction and wind strength conclusively affected people’s health in just a short period of time while similarly having implications on life expectancy. Related: For 2019, the 10 worst cities for air quality are in California and Arizona Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said, “London’s lethal air is a public health crisis — it leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year, as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing cases of respiratory illness.” The research results were published ahead of the British National Clean Air Summit , which was hosted by UK100 , a British network of local government leaders. In response to the study findings, the British National Health Service (NHS) tweeted that almost a third of preventable deaths in England “are due to non-communicable diseases specifically attributed to air pollution .” Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS, further explained, “Since these avoidable deaths are happening now — not in 2025 or 2050 — together we need to act now. For the NHS, that is going to mean further comprehensive action building on the reduction of our carbon footprint of one-fifth in the past decade. So our NHS energy use, supply chain, building adaptations and our transport will all need to change substantially.” + King’s College London Via EcoWatch Image via Matt Buck

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Research finds heart attacks and strokes surge on high pollution days in England

Amazon rainforest might reach irreversible tipping point as early as 2021

October 25, 2019 by  
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Relentless Amazon deforestation and gross mishandling of the region by Brazilian authorities and agricultural advocates are pushing the world’s largest tropical rainforest closer to the brink of catastrophic ecological collapse. Even more alarming, once that tipping point is reached, there will be no way to reverse it. Estimates reveal that if mass environmental mismanagement persists, within two years’ time, the forest will collapse and will be unable to generate enough rain to sustain itself. The news was shared in a policy brief put forth by Monica de Bolle, a Peterson Institute for International Economics senior fellow in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the report only sparked controversy, with some climatologists and researchers arguing that the tipping point is still 15 to 25 years away. Related: IPCC landmark report warns about the state of the oceans, polar ice content and the climate crisis The Amazon is currently experiencing excessive deforestation, 75 percent of which is attributed to two ‘forest-risk commodities’: soybeans and beef — Brazil’s main exports. Widespread deforestation and land clearing diminish regional rainfall, exacerbating the risks of fire, drought and heat stress. These environmental stressors leave the trees and ecosystem vulnerable to parasites and pathogens, further predisposing the flora to far-reaching forest dry-up and ecological decline. Sadly, an unhealthy Amazon rainforest can no longer produce enough rain to sustain itself. The mortality of the rainforest’s trees would release billions of tons of carbon, intensifying greenhouse gas emissions and global warming . Dire consequences include biodiversity loss, rampant ecosystem failure and climate repercussions. Carlos Nobre, a leading climate scientist in Brazil, is one of de Bolle’s detractors. “The Amazon is already 17 percent deforested, so when you calculate at the current rate of deforestation, this 20 percent to 25 percent is reached in 15 to 20 years,” Nobre said. “I hope she is wrong. If she is right, it is the end of the world.” No matter whether the tipping point is reached by 2021 or later, what’s clear is that if things continue unabated in the Amazon, the once-treasured World Heritage site will collapse, and the entire world will suffer. Via The Guardian Image via NASA

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Amazon rainforest might reach irreversible tipping point as early as 2021

A solar-powered catamaran with a built-in plastic clean-up system sets sail off the coast of Ibiza

September 25, 2019 by  
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Tourists from all over the world flock to Spain’s coastal regions throughout the year; however, the rising amount of plastic waste accumulating in the Mediterranean is threatening to do irreversible damage to these once-pristine waters. Thankfully, one forward-thinking cruise company is doing its part to keep the damage at bay. La Bella Verde has recently launched the Mediterranean’s only solar-powered and zero-emissions charter catamaran that comes equipped with a unique ocean filtering system, which removes plastics from the ocean waters. Launched in 2014 by two captains and one marine biologist who call Ibiza home, La Bella Verde is a sustainable charter company that also runs a non-profit foundation dedicated to preserving Ibiza’s beautiful waters. According to the company ethos, the eco-boating service revolves around enjoying life while caring for the environment. “We are here for a good time, and mother nature should not suffer at our expense,” the website reads. Related: Meet Squid — Key West’s solar-powered boat for dolphin tours With seven solar-powered catamarans, the company charters its “eco-cats” to tourists and locals, providing an exciting experience on the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, all while emitting zero emissions. Now, the company has launched a new clean-up boat that actively filters out any debris in the water. The IBI Clean-Up Boat’s innovative, integrated system includes a high-grade inox steel framework with tight nylon netting that is connected between the boat’s two hulls. Operated with a central winch, the netting is lowered into the water to scoop up plastic waste . The system is designed so that marine life and seaweed can easily be released back into the water without any suffering. When it is not lowered for cleaning, the area serves as a comfortable, hammock-style lounge. According to the company’s calculations, the solar-powered boats , which sail seven hours per day, are able to clean approximately the equivalent of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools per day. + La Bella Verde Photography by Victor Frankowski via La Bella Verde

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A solar-powered catamaran with a built-in plastic clean-up system sets sail off the coast of Ibiza

Student designs a chic wooden stand mixer that requires zero electricity

September 25, 2019 by  
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Look into any typical kitchen, and you’re likely to discover cupboards full of gadgets, utensils and devices aimed at making food prep more convenient. Manuel Immler, a German design student, cringed at the lack of sustainability in owning multiple electronic kitchen tools and instead designed an electricity-free mixer as a prototype that changes the norm. Not only did Immler identify the wasteful practices of mass production but also noted the consumption of energy in manufacturing and using electronic kitchen devices. In what has become a consume-and-dispose society, Immler aimed to create a product that was durable and sustainable from start to finish. Related: Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable On his master’s thesis at the Free University of Balzono, the stated theme was, “Development of a sustainable food processor with focus on regional materials and circular economy .” To achieve this goal, he tapped into his passion for eco-social design, evaluating the full product cycle. “For my master’s thesis, I asked myself how products and goods have to be designed so that their harmful effects can be minimized through resource and energy consumption but also through transport, waste and rebound effects,” Immler said. The result of this effort is a kitchen appliance called Pino that is sourced from local materials, minimizing the need for transport and providing local jobs. The device does not require electricity thanks to a manual hand crank. Pino is built to last to avoid the need for frequent replacement. Plus, it can do multiple functions to replace the need for numerous different kitchen gadgets. The design itself is not only aimed at sustainability but visual appeal as well with its natural wood exterior. These pieces are timeless but still interchangeable when you’re ready to update the look. For durability, the base is cast iron, and the inside components are made from steel. Using a series of available gears, Pino can vary from 50-1000 revolutions per minute to provide more power. This allows the machine and its attachments to grind, stir, mix, squeeze, scrape, plane, whisk or grate. + Manuel Immler Images via Maita Petersen and Manuel Immler

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Student designs a chic wooden stand mixer that requires zero electricity

How I Collected 1,000 Cigarette Butts

September 24, 2019 by  
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I never smoked. I guess it’s because of the smell, … The post How I Collected 1,000 Cigarette Butts appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How I Collected 1,000 Cigarette Butts

Technology uses banana leaves as a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic

September 20, 2019 by  
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Plastic pollution negatively impacts the health of our planet. Waste management has led to an irreversible environmental crisis that is felt by wildlife, especially in the oceans. One organization, called Banana Leaf Technology, is helping to address the stark reality by proposing banana leaves as a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic . Using 100 percent organic banana leaves as raw material, the novel, eco-friendly preservation technology transforms the cellular structure by enhancing its properties so that the leaves remain green for an entire year without any chemicals. Plus, their shelf lifespan is extended to up to three years. Related: Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week After the preservation process, the enhanced leaves have increased load-bearing capabilities, resistance to extreme temperatures, durability, elasticity and flexibility. Banana Leaf Technology’s website additionally states that the processed leaves are more pathogen-resistant with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. How does it do this? The technology fortifies the banana leaves’ cell walls and prevents pathogenic agents from degrading the processed biomaterial’s cells. Currently, Banana Leaf Technology offers 30 products that utilize its preservation methods. These products include plates, cups, cones, boxes, writing paper and envelopes. Because the patented Banana Leaf Technology is customizable, other products are expected to be developed in the future, such as natural packaging alternatives. Banana Leaf Technology products provide several advantages. Besides curtailing the destructive damages to wildlife and landfills, using preserved banana leaf products decreases the risks of plastic leaching byproducts and toxins into food and beverages, making them a far healthier cookware, dinnerware and food storage alternative to plastic. Moreover, after their primary use, they can, in turn, serve as animal fodder or garden fertilizer to make soil more arable. First formulated in 2010 by Tenith Adithyaa, a precocious 11-year-old who was working in his homemade laboratory, the now-patented Banana Leaf Technology has since received seven international awards. The company’s mission, according to its website, is “to solve the global climate crisis without compromising the economy.” Adithyaa’s vision is to make Banana Leaf Technology “available to all human beings, regardless of their geographical and economical boundaries.” Interestingly, the company’s current business model is to “sell the tech license worldwide to any company” that shares in Adithyaa’s vision. The website elaborates further, stipulating that “any commercial or non-commercial company can purchase the license to this technology by technology transfer. The license will be granted for lifetime to operate worldwide.” + Banana Leaf Technology Images via Banana Leaf Technology and Pkraemer

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An abandoned market becomes a light-filled homeless shelter in London

September 20, 2019 by  
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We love it when old buildings can be put to good use, but it especially warms our hearts when architects use adaptive reuse to convert empty structures into spaces specially designed to help those in need. London-based firm Holland Harvey Architects has recently done just that by converting a derelict supermarket into a stunning, light-filled homeless shelter with an attached cafe. Launched in 2017, Shelter From The Storm is a charitable organization that aims to house and support people who are homeless in London . The organization approached Holland Harvey Architects for help converting an abandoned supermarket into a shelter. Working together, the charity and the architects envisioned a welcoming, temporary home that also offers holistic support to reintegrate the residents into society. As such, the design revolved around creating a purpose-built space to meet the distinct needs of an urban homeless shelter . Related: A decaying shop in Cambodia gains a new life through adaptive reuse principles The design features two parts: the shelter and a cafe. The cafe features a large, glazed entrance that leads to a well-lit interior with plenty of seating. To create the dual spaces, the designers were determined to use adaptive reuse to cut down on costs and completion time. The existing building featured brick predominantly throughout the interior as well as the exterior, which was kept intact during the renovation. For a unique touch, the team painted the brick walls various, subdued colors. The private areas of the homeless shelter feature three dorms (two for males and one for females) with 42 beds. Each person has their own bed and lockable wardrobe. In addition to required amenities such as showers and bathrooms, the building also includes meeting space, a counseling room, a clothing store and a lounge area. Behind the scenes, volunteers and residents work in the shelter ‘s commercial kitchen to prepare food for breakfasts and dinners. In addition to providing a safe place to stay and freshly cooked meals, they also offer language classes and other resources to help residents get back on their feet. Shelter from the Storm admits guests to the dorms in the evening only, but during the day, the cafe is open to the local community. Adding this public space to the project enables the locals to feel connected to the organization and those that are in need. + Holland Harvey Architects + Shelter from the Storm Via Dezeen Photography by Nicholas Worley via Holland Harvey Architects

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An abandoned market becomes a light-filled homeless shelter in London

The ultimate guide to eco-friendly period products

July 31, 2019 by  
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If you’re a person who is serious about protecting the environment, you’re probably conscious of how much trash you generate every time you have a period. In addition to being chock-full of plastics sent straight to landfills, pads and tampons also contain harsh chemicals that are toxic . Yet most people continue exposing their bodies to these products month after month. Luckily, there are better options out there for both you and the planet — here’s a guide to help you find what might work best for you. “Anything coming in constant contact with your skin will land in your bloodstream for distribution throughout your body,” Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote in an alarming Huffington Post article about the dangers of menstrual products. Despite the potential dangers, the chemical ingredients in tampons and pads are an industry secret, protected by nondisclosure policies that favor corporations, manufacturers and innovators but put consumers at serious risk. So if you want to cut down on polluting nature and your body, consider this comprehensive guide on more sustainable product options available right now. As always, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to help determine the best options for you. Menstrual cups Menstrual cups are one of the most eco-friendly options out there. If you can get over the initial learning curve, they are easy and convenient to use. Why we love them Although the up-front sticker price is higher, when you calculate how much you spend every month on tampons or pads, the savings are obvious. The cups are comfortable and barely noticeable once they have been inserted — the same way you might get used to a tampon and hardly realize it is there. They are especially easy for travelers who want to save precious space in their luggage and say goodbye to last-minute, emergency trips to the convenience store. Most cup brands come in multiple sizes and some even come in varying levels of firmness, depending on your preference, flow, age and whether or not you have had a vaginal birth. The cups are capable of handling even heavy flow days, with most users reporting minimal — if any — leaks. Below is a brief review of a few popular brands. Diva Cup ($35) The Diva Cup is the most recognized and popular brand. It has three sizes (including one for teens), lasts up to 12 hours and is made from medical-grade silicone. Sustain Natural Period Cup ($39) These cups are flexible, compact and made entirely of medical-grade silicone . They claim to hold three tampons-worth of liquid and are available in two sizes. This is also the only brand that currently offers a microwave case for cleaning the cup. Peachlife Menstrual Cup ($22) Also made of medical-grade silicone, this cup uniquely comes in a variety of firmness levels (soft, medium-firm and extra-firm). Unlike other brands that come to a point, the Peachlife cup has a silicone ring at the bottom for easy removal (but remember, you still have to break the suction of the cup; you cannot just tug on the ring!). Cups are not without challenges Menstrual cups cannot be recycled at the end of their lifecycles, but when you calculate how many pads and tampons you averted from landfills, this product is worth it. The cups can also be difficult to maneuver at first. Once you have practiced and get the hang of folding the cup, inserting it and then breaking the seal to remove, it’s just as easy as any other option. It typically takes about three periods to fully adapt to using a menstrual cup. Because of cultural and religious beliefs, some people do have objections or hesitations to using a cup. Related: Study shows menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads A new spin on ‘period underwear’ Absorbent underwear brands like THINX and Lunapads are increasing in popularity and market share. They are simply underwear that you wear during your period that are specially manufactured to absorb menstrual blood. Why they’re so easy If you know how to put on your undies, then you know how to use these — they have all other products beat in terms of ease of use. They are also eco-friendly, because you wash and reuse them each time you have your period. That means they do not produce landfill trash every month. The downside of absorbent underwear Period underwear is more expensive than your typical pair of underwear because of their patented absorption technology . You will also need a few pairs depending on the length and flow of your period and how often you’re able to wash and dry them. Like the cups though, when you tally the cost of underwear against lifetime tampon expenses, they’re a smart economic choice. The horrors of tampons and better options “The average American woman uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime — or up to 24,360 if she’s on estrogen replacement therapy,” said Dr. Mercola. That’s a lot of trash , but it is also a lot of time that your body is exposed to toxic chemicals. Cotton is better; organic cotton is best You may have heard health experts say that cotton underwear is best for promoting vaginal health — the same goes for tampons. Look for brands that specifically say they are made from organic cotton, but assume that most conventional brands are now made from plastics and synthetic materials. These materials are not breathable, can get fragmented and left behind and might encourage health problems like yeast and bacterial growth. Most tampons are also bleached with substances linked to abnormal tissue growth, abnormal cell growth and immune system suppression. Americans use 7 billion tampon applicators every year; the chemicals in the applicator, phthalates, have been generally linked to organ damage, lower I.Q. and asthma. What to try instead Using tampons without applicators will significantly cut down the plastic waste you generate. Brands like o.b. offer tampons that can be inserted with just your finger. Seventh Generation offers a chlorine-free, organic cotton tampon that reduces your exposure to chemicals. Organyc also offers a 100 percent organic cotton tampon. What about pads? Many people prefer pads for comfort or cultural reasons; however, the average sanitary pad contains “the equivalent of about four plastic bags, and this doesn’t include the other chemicals like BPA , BPS, phthalates and toxic dioxin created by the bleaching process.” Even though they have plastic in them, pads are never recyclable because they have been contaminated with bodily fluid. Because pads have a bigger volume than tampons, they produce even more waste. The average person throws away between 250 and 300 pounds of pads or tampons in their lifetime. What to use if you prefer pads There are reusable sanitary pads online that significantly reduce the amount of trash produced. Simply place the pad in your underwear; when it is dirty, rinse it with cold water and then add it to the laundry. You can buy reusable pads from Gladrags or find cute designs via Etsy. You can also try your hand at sewing your own . Disposable tampons and pads dominate the menstrual care market, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With small personal changes, you can protect your health, wallet and the planet. Images via Shutterstock

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The ultimate guide to eco-friendly period products

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